Meeting With the Big Bad Chiefs Becoming Less and Less Likely
By Joe Smeltzer
I don’t know when it started. But at some point, every Steelers fan from here to Prague decided that whatever happened in 2020 would lead into a heavyweight clash with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Fans, even of the same team, disagree on many things. One thing everybody in this city has in common is a minor obsession with Patrick Mahomes.
As the Steelers started 11-0, The Debbie Downers would talk, tweet, rant etc. about how their boys would get their doors blown off by Kansas City, while the defenders would, of course, do the opposite.
If one were to downplay the Steelers’ first 11 opponents?
“The Chiefs have an easy schedule too! Nobody talks about that!”
If one were to criticize the way the Steelers won those games?
“The Chiefs win a lot of close games too! Nobody talks about that!”
As for any praise of Kansas City (or any other team for that matter)?
“The Steelers have a better defense, nobody talks about that!”
I’ll admit, up until this past Sunday, I was like everybody else. I couldn’t imagine this winter coming and going without the Steelers and Chiefs meeting, most likely in the AFC Championship game.
As the weeks go by, and Steelers games become a gloom parade of dropped passes, three-and-outs and Jaylen Samuels, the chances of the irresistible force meeting the immoveable object shrink.
The concept of fixating on a hypothetical football game should be familiar to Western Pennsylvania. Just three years ago, the Steelers, like they are now, were 11-2, and everybody knew that Pittsburgh and New England were going to duke it out for the chance to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.
It never happened.
The Steelers instead gave up 45 points to Blake Bortles.
Make no mistake, a lot is different three years later.
The faces have changed. Lev Bell is a backup for the big bad Chiefs. Antonio Brown hasn’t scored a touchdown since last September. Ryan Shazier, sadly, is retired. So too, thankfully, Mike Mitchell.
The situations are also different. For one, Steelers fans always obsessed over New England during the Brady years. In 2017 specifically, the obsession spilled over beyond the typical “Gary from Beaver Falls’” of the world and into the organization. Mike Tomlin himself mentioned a rematch not long before the teams met in the regular season, that of course being the infamous Jesse James game.
No, the Chiefs aren’t the Patriots. Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes are easy to like, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady aren’t. But the idea of focusing on what another team is doing hasn’t left The Iron City.
Take the first quarter of Sunday’s Chiefs-Dolphins game. The great Mahomes threw two interceptions (He’s human n’at!) and had one of the worst plays of the NFL season when he took a 30-yard sack (If Ben did that he’d never hear the end of it!) The Dolphins jumped ahead, 10-0, and those who will render you deaf talking about how overrated Kansas City is were having a field day.
The laughs didn’t last too long. The Chiefs came back and won, and several hours later, the Steelers laid an egg.
There’s still some football left. Maybe the hypothetical will turn into reality. Maybe the Steelers will get it together well enough to at least have a crack at the defending champs. What’s definite, however, is that Steelers fans, from the Debbie Downer to the cockeyed optimist, to myself, need to stop talking about the Chiefs.